Kerima Polotan’s book entitled “The Hand of the Enemy” is a story of a woman who realized she has to struggle as a daughter, a mother, a wife, and a woman. Emma Gorrez, the protagonist of the story, suffers from her relationships with men: her father, her husband and her employer who wanted to become her lover.
In the first part of the book, the reader is introduced to the main character working in the city. She recalled the time when she was still in college, working to support herself because her father cut her allowance. It was a conflict between the father and the daughter and the first time she went home was when she was to attend her father’s funeral with her half brothers and sisters and her stepmother.
She applied for a job as a teacher in Tayug, a barrio, and there she met Mr. Rividad, a married man who confessed he loves Emma days before she got married to Domingo Gorrez. Mr. Rividad had a wife whom the people of Tayug considered a whore because she slept with different men but Mr. Rividad learned to mind the rumors no more and still accepted Norma as the mother of his children.
Another female character then enters the scene. Nora Cosio arrived in Tayug, causing much curiosity to the people, giving away free shirts to earn their votes for the election. She charmed the people and made friends with Emma and Domingo. Weeks after Nora Cosio went back to the city, Doming decided to live the city life and established a printing press to start a new living. But the business was a failure and their marriage too was in danger. But Doming never wanted to go home. It was their first major fight and Emma chose to go back to Tayug with her children.
Emma struggled to raise the children on her own and Doming would give them financial assistance every month. It was a fight she never expected that would lead the marriage to its bitter end.
It started when Doming seemed not bothered at all with the distance and he did not dare visit the family even once. And she, who could not endure such a distance, came to the city to settle the problems. But she never expected to see a woman in Doming’s apartment. The woman was younger than her and claimed to be Doming’s girlfriend. And it was the sign of the end of their married life. She bought home a jacket and some things for her kids, pretending they were from Doming’s.
She did not know how to cope with the breakup. Out of desperation, she went out with Mr. Rividad, whom she now called by his first name, Rene. But she could only show the same sympathy towards the marriage that they both suffered. And the story ended with Emma going home and Rene feeling so hopeless for his love for Emma. Marriage became each other’s funeral. Marriage gives authority for men to rule and for women to suffer.
The story did not only revolve around the main character’s life but also on the challenges of women characters in the story as well. Nora is portrayed as a whore because she is occasionally going out with different men and people began to misjudge her. Nora, Mr. Rividad’s wife, is under the power of the phallus. She has conflicts with her relationship with her father, the same case with Emma. When she was younger, she longed for her father’s love and attention, but her father had been too distant with her. He went around with different women and she met different sisters and brothers from her father’s different wives.